Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beating the Post-Race Blues: On to the Next One

After DJ Research killed it at the Harper's Ferry Half Marathon, he gave himself a few days to rest and then went out for a short run, only to return complaining that "it sucked."  For the next week or so, he moped around the house like the mopiest-moping mopester.  He managed a few runs during this time, but they were unfulfilling and his legs felt dead.  He didn't know what was wrong

I wanted to lend a sympathetic ear, but I was preparing for my own race, and was on top of the world excited for it.  I really couldn't relate to what he was going through.  But then I ran my race, and the hullabaloo died down, and I suddenly found myself moping right along with him.

I went for a few runs myself--nothing more than three miles--but I didn't feel invigorated when I was done.  In fact, I kinda felt like I was wasting my time.  I felt empty and listless.  Was I burned out with running already?!?

Turns out, we were both suffering from post-race blues.  We had spent the past few months training for these races, and now that the races were doneanddone, we felt like we were running for nothing.

I know, so dramatic and pathetic, right?

So we decided to get off our mope-ed (get it?!), and do something about it.  According to this Runner's World article, its important to have post-race running goals to keep you moving and motivated.  That said, rest is also a very key component of recovering from a race.  Always on the lookout for ways to multi-task, I decided to rest AND plan my running goals for summer and fall (I realize thats super lame and not really multi-tasking, but frankly, fake multi-tasking is a skill of mine.  I can watch TV and fold laundry likes its my job.)

Here's what I have planned for the summer:

1) #RWRUNSTREAK.  As I mentioned, the DJ and I are doing the Runner's World Summer Running Streak and running (at least) 1 mile a day from Memorial Day to July 4th.  This is the perfect challenge for me right now because there is zero pressure, but it still gets me out there for at least one mile.  We're 4 days into the challenge and so far I've run 11.6 miles.  I actually injured myself just a tad today--nothing serious--and the DJ asked, "Are you going to run tomorrow?"  "I have to," I said.  "I'm freaking streaking!"

Not the kind of streaking I had in mind,
but hey, whatever rocks your boat. (src)

2) Go on a family run (almost) every weekend.  I love running with my fam.  Its great bonding time for all of us, and since logistically its easiest if we run first thing in the morning, its a great way to start the day.  I say almost every weekend because I imagine there will be days when its too hot to run with Nugget, even at 8 in the morning, and there will be days when none of us want to get out of bed.  Almost gives us some wiggle room, and reminds me not to be militant about my arbitrary goals.

3) Find fun races.  Racing is fun, but the fees can really add up.  I've been looking for races this summer that are free (i.e. put on by our local running club) or super fun, and therefore worth the entry fee.  On the list right now is Friends of the W&OD 10K (which is a paved trail race that has a jogging stroller division!) and the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Half-Marathon.

W&OD Railroad Regional Park

4) On to the next one: But these goals are really secondary to my BIG goal for 2012: the Anthem Richmond Marathon.  Yup, after a good race at the Marine Corps Half-Marathon, I've decided its time for me to run the whole thing.  All 26.2 miles.  Holy smokes, I can't believe I just typed that.

Richmond Marathon.  Look at those colors!!

These goals make me excited to run, to really run, again.

Running this spring was awesome.  Running this summer is going to rock.  Running this fall is going to kick some major tush.  I'm so excited.

Have you ever had the post-race blues?  How did you beat it?

What is your BIG running goal for this summer or fall?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Family Fun Streak!

Earlier this week, the DJ and I decided it was high time our family unit went for a family run.  We have not run together as a family yet this year, and its already the end of May.  A Memorial Day family fun run would be the perfect way to kick off the summer.

Well, a fun run would be fun, but why fun run when you could do something more fun than a fun run?  (say that 10 times fast).  Whats more fun than a fun run?  A FUN STREAK!!


Yup, we decided to streak it.  Which does not mean we ran naked (my college days are over, my friend.  Not that I ran naked in college.  Hi mom!).  DJ Research and I are joining the Runner's World Summer Running Streak where we will be running (at least) one mile a day from Memorial Day to July 4th.  Thats 38 consecutive days of running.  This challenge is exactly what I need to get me out of my post-race blues (more on that later).

The night before our fun run streak, we laid out our running clothes and set the coffee maker.  Then we packed snacks for Nugget, got his sippy cups ready, chose his clothes, packed an extra change of clothes/diapers, and put the stroller in the car.  (Its amazing that someone more than half our size requires twice as much stuff!!)

We knew it was going to be a hot one, so we wanted to hit the trail early.  We were hoping to leave our house by 7:00am, but didn't actually get out the door until 7:30am.  We were on the trail by 8:00am.

Lake near the trail

And by trail I mean a paved trail under lots of tree cover.  The day was not yet uncomfortably hot, and it was particularly cool under the tree canopy.  The plan was to run 4 miles total: 2 miles out, 2 miles back.  DJ Research took stroller duty first, which I prefer because it gives my body a chance to loosen up before I have to push.

I felt we started strong, but the DJ informed me that we were actually quite slow (I'm so bad at assessing my pace!)  Regardless, it was great to be running with the Hubs again!!  We picked up our pace at the end of mile one, and suddenly we were at the turn-around and it was my turn for stroller duty!  I really wanted a negative split, so I tried to push hard on the return.  Mile 4 we averaged a 9:03 pace, and that was with hills!  I'm happy with that speed, and it gives us a bar to set future stroller runs against.

After our run, we freed Nugget from the confines of his stroller to roam around, rock-throw and bubble-blow.  Because a fun streak really isn't fun unless you are streaking with bubbles.


This is belated, but I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  Thank you to all the men and women out there who have served and are serving our country!  Our family unit salutes you!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon: Race Recap

Two weeks ago, our family unit was in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia to cheer DJ Research on as he ran the Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon.  He ran a great race, and as soon as he crossed the finish line, I congratulated him with a big juicy smooch and asked, "Can you write a race recap for my blog?!?"  Because being a guest blogger on Run 'Ama, Run! was exactly what he was thinking about as he poured his blood, sweat and tears into that crazy hilly course.

Well, the DJ is awesome, so write it he did (and because I'm Yoda, talk like that I do).  And here it is:

Two Fridays past, Ama, Nugget, and I braved Beltway traffic on our way to Harpers Ferry, WV. I had been wavering for some time about whether or not I wanted to run a half marathon this season, but a few weeks ago, Ama gave me a little nudge and there we were, crammed into our little Toyota heading west with a handful of Gu and a new pair of race socks.

Harpers Ferry was host to the second annual Harpers Ferry Half Marathon. Here’s the race description:

“The half marathon course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry. The route includes close to 1000 feet of total elevation gain and 2000 feet of total elevation change. You will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed gravel paths. You will view the confluence of the Two Rivers- the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will. The fun and challenging downhills will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run. Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, mountains, scenery will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line.”

Sounds nice, right? If they had TV commercials, I imagine someone would say, “it’s not just a race, it’s an adventure.” And it was.

The race started on a grassy Civil War battlefield, followed by a gravel path and a short distance on forest trail. This gave way to road, which in turn, gave way to sandy riverside paths. About five miles in, we hit the cobblestones of Harpers Ferry’s historic streets and meandered through town a bit before turning around for the return trip. We ran grass, gravel, packed dirt, road, sand, and cobbles (?!). And every bit of it was beautiful. 

I loved it. There are so many reasons why the Harpers Ferry was a great race – the participants were few and all very supportive of one another, the volunteers and spectators were enthusiastic and numerous, the panoramas were beautiful, and the course itself was challenging without being tooo challenging.
The best thing was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. The starting line was a piece of duct tape. I think the winners got a DVD. We were just 200 people out for a leisurely 13.1 mile run.

But there was also this:

It’s kind of amazing how easy it is to skip over this line from the race description: The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will.

As I passed one runner about halfway up the first major incline he said, “This hill’s a booger.” Yeah. To say the least. And I should point out, the above chart is from my Garmin. The elevation chart on the race website – the chart I vigorously studied pre-race – portends something still difficult but distinctly less angular. Pre-race, I had the romantic notion that I might be able to finish the course without walking. That idea was shattered by the end of mile six. And again at the end of mile eleven.  And maybe one or two other times in between (that idea was well and thoroughly, little tiny bits).

Actually though, while it was bad, it wasn’t soooo bad. Like I said, I studied up ahead of time, so I had some idea what I was in for even if I didn’t know exactly what I was in for. There aren’t too many hills where we live, but Ama and I don’t shy away from those we have. I could have been better prepared, but I was probably better off than quite a few of my fellow runners. Frankly, the hills were my favorite sections of the course; I loved the challenge. And suffering is less terrible when it’s done with other people.

Coming into the race, I would have been stoked to break two hours. At my first half marathon last fall, the Hershey Half, I finished in 2:01 but with the exception of a few rolling hills, the course was relatively flat. And while on the one hand, I was really happy simply to have finished, on the other I was secretly a little disappointed that I hadn’t run just two minutes faster. For the Harpers Ferry Half, I was in much better shape.  But those hills…

Somehow, I PR’d. And pretty comfortably I might add. I remember finishing mile 12 at around 1:37, and thinking with a huge smile, I could walk to the finish and still make it in under two hours. Of course, I had completely forgotten about the last remaining short-but-still-horribly-painful hill, so that last mile was a bit of a slog, but I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:48:49.

I’d preceded this race with some pretty long training runs, so I wasn’t worried about making it to the finish line. The one big question was how much the hills would slow me down. Before the race, I’d made a pact with myself that I would powerwalk the inclines if my heart rate got up too high, and use that reserved energy to fly down the declines. If there was one thing I could say I owed the success of this race to, it was that – allowing myself that it was okay to walk if I needed to and having prepared enough beforehand to know I could be aggressive on the downhills.

But if I’m really being honest, everything went right that day. My race strategy worked right. I fueled right. I paced right. Given my current athletic ability, I honestly don’t think I could have run this one any better.

Far and away, this was the best race I’d ever run (it was only my fourth), but given how well I did, how much fun I had, and how beautiful a day it was, this was probably my best run of any kind, ever.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tossing Ideas Around

DJ Research has been considering initiating a health challenge among his social sphere.  He's tentatively calling it "Health Week Challenge" (which I actually coined and I realize is not very creative).  Basically he wants to challenge himself and his friends to actively engage in one healthy activity--be it physical, educational, dietary, emotional/psychological (i.e. stress)--for one week.

This is not completely uncommon for the DJ and I.  We will sometimes impose little challenges on ourselves; for instance, we challenged ourselves to become "voracious readers" and last year we both read over 30 books (a big jump from a few years ago when I just read 6 books).

So the DJ is tossing ideas my way as to what his "Healthy Week Challenge" challenge might be:

DJ: I was thinking I could try to run 100 miles in one week.
Me: You realize many would argue that puts too much stress on the body, and thus would be the opposite of healthy.
DJ: Yes, but I really want to do it.
Me: Well, I think its a great goal, and I think you could totally do it!  Maybe not next week, but with smart training, I know you could totally run 100 miles in one week.  Thats an awesome goal!!
DJ: Thanks! I was also thinking I would try to get 8 hours of sleep a day for one whole week.
Me:  WHAT?!?  Are you crazy?  Thats insane!  You mean 8 consecutive hours?  For 7 consecutive days?  Thats impossible!  Are humans even capable of such a feat?!

Clearly priorities are a little messed up around here.  And clearly I need more sleep.

Getting enough sleep is exceptionally vital to good health, but it is oh-so-difficult to do.  I would love to blame it on the fact that I have young son, but honestly, Nugget is a champion sleeper.  10-12 hours a night is the norm for him  I'm just such a night owl, I can't go to bed before midnight.

Despite my night-owl tendencies, getting adequate sleep would not be the biggest challenge for me.  My challenge would be in the kitchen.  Because I H.A.T.E. cooking.  To be completely frank, "cook one meal every day for a whole week" would be really difficult for me.  I hate cooking that much.

So we'll see whats in store for both of us once the "Health Week Challenge" rolls around.  Hopefully I'm on vacation that week.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon Race Recap

Rockstar weekend is over (which means I'm back to doing the dishes, grrr...), but I'm still happy about my performance at the Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon this past Sunday in Fredericksburg, VA.  I managed a 1:59:02 finish, which is a 12:58 faster PR than my previous HM finish at the Hershey Half last year (2:12:00).  I think I can run faster, though, and I look forward to training harder and trying for another HM PR in the fall.

As evidenced by previous race recaps, its really easy to blog about every. single. detail. of your race, even though it may be oh-so-tedious for your readers to read (or not read, which is probably the case).  Its also really easy to not want to blog about every. single. detail. of your race, because it is oh-so-tedious to type (or not type, as I was sorely tempted to skip this post).  For the sake of brevity, I'm going to adopt a race recap template (which I stole from Banana BuzzBomb, who stole it from RocTheRun) to highlight certain aspects of the race, so that we can all get on with our lives a good night's sleep.  (Not that detailed race reports aren't awesome.  To be honest, if I had the time and energy, I would probably write a novella about each race.  But me wants to sleep!)


This course was all road.  I thought it would be a mostly flat course, with a whopper of a hill at mile 10.  Turns out, its a fairly hilly course, with a whopper junior of a hill at mile 10.

The Weather:

The day started a bit chilly but comfortable with bright blue skies.  It obviously got hotter as the day went on, but I didn't think it was ever too hot.

Low Points:

I started WAY TOO FAST.  I passed the 5K point in 25:58, an 8:21m/m.  Thats awesome, but way too fast for me.  I knew I needed to dial it back, particularly with all the upcoming hills.  Also, I ran the early downhills strong, but a little too strong.  I was pretty winded between miles 4-6.  By the 15K point, I was running 8:50m/m, which is more my speed.  And then I hit Hospital Hill.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I did walk a portion of it because I knew there was another hill in mile 11.  I also walked a portion of that hill until I realized this was the last hill and I might as well give it all I got at this point!

High Points:

The spectators.  Fredericksburg really knows how to motivate its runners!  People were lined along almost all 13.1 miles, clapping, cheering, waving, handing out tequila jello shots (at mile 4.  I kid you not).  There were church choirs, school bands, real bands, and even a few quartets, plus a few groups dressed in Civil War-era garb.  But I think my favorite spectators were the kids, who eagerly held out their hands to high-five us as we ran by.  I'm a big advocate of thanking those who came out to cheer us, so I waved and clapped and high-fived back.  So fun!

But I think my greatest motivator (besides DJ Research and Nugget, of course) was the announcer at the finish line.  As I'm nearing the end, I hear the announcer yell over the (ridiculously loud) PA system: "RUNNERS!  IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, YOU HAVE THREE MINUTES TO MAKE IT UNDER 2:00 HOURS!  THREE MINUTES!!  YOU CAN DO IT!"  I had no idea I was so close.  Due to my fuzzy math skills, I thought I had an extra mile to go.  When I realized I was going to make it under 2 hours, tears sprang into my eyes and I started kicking hard.  I wanted to make sure I ABSOLUTELY finished under 2:00.  With 0:58 seconds to spare, I crossed the finish line.  I was so happy, I peed my pants.

PR happy!

The Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon was fun and festive!  I recommend it as a first time half-marathon (just train for hills) because all the support really pumps you up.  Thank you to all the marines who helped as course marshals and who cheered us on.  And thank you to all the men and women in all branches of the armed forces for your service to our country!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rockstar Weekend

It was another big, fun weekend for our family unit.  We drove down to Fredericksburg, VA, where I ran the Marine Corps Half-Marathon, and where we all achieved rockstar-status.

  • I got my sub-2 hour half-marathon, by 0:58 seconds.  My goal was sub-2:05, but when I realized I was on-course for a sub-2 hour time, I pushed.  I am super happy with my time, and am allowing myself rockstar-status for the rest of the day.  Which basically means I'm not doing the dishes.
  • Nugget was a rockstar the whole trip.  He ate well, drank well and slept well, although apparently he did need a little pick-me up this morning.  He also showed me proper stretching technique.

Pouding a cup'o'joe (don't worry, its empty).

'Ama, let me show you proper stretching technique.

  • DJ Research was a rockstar trip coordinator, coach, cheerleader and hubby (he's doing laundry as I type!).  As we drove the course the day before the race, he not only advised how to run each uphill and downhill, but also reminded me to run on the flattest portion of the roads (something I would not have thought about).  We also talked about how I would fuel during the race, which was key.  He met me at three different points during the race, and made sure I stretched and hydrated enough post-race.  He was probably the biggest rockstar of the weekend.

It was a great weekend, but I'm exhausted now and want to curl up on the couch with the DJ, have a beer, and watch Unbreakable for the 8th time.  Race recap coming soon.  I just wanted to say: I did it!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon: Post-Race/Enjoying the Weekend

Day one can be found here.
The race as a spectator can be found here.

We enjoyed the post-race festivities for a while as DJ Research stretched/recovered and Nugget ate rocks.

Rocks are high in protein, he told me.
Um, no, I told him.
This is the first time we have ever stuck around for post-race festivities.  Usually the celebration area is too crowded, and we'd rather stretch and reflect on the race without getting run over.  But with this race being on the smaller side, we could have our little corner and still enjoy the festivities.

After we had our fill, we headed into town to find some grub.  Li'l Nugget, who had been such a trooper all morning, fell asleep just as we were pulling into the restaurant parking lot.  So out we pulled and back on the road we went, driving around until Nugget woke up (because a day without naptime is not a fun day for anyone).  We decided to check out nearby Sheperdstown, which is also home to Two Rivers Treads, the exclusively minimalist running shoe store.

Admittedly, a chance to visit to Two Rivers Treads was a big impetus to sign up for this race.  The DJ was really on the fence about it, but I kept whispering in his ear, "C'mon!  It looks beautiful!  Its a trail race!  We can visit Two Rivers Treads!"  I'm not sure if it was the latter that sold him, but it was high on the list for me!

But before we got to this mecca, we stopped at a little cafe for lunch.  We asked for garden seating, and I was a little surprised when the hostess led us to a table for two, when we were clearly a party of and a half.  We quickly realized, though, that a high chair would not work on the rocky garden floor, so Nugget just sat in our laps, and at the end of the meal he commenced his weekend activity guess it...rock-throwing.

The meal was good but not remarkable.  What was remarkable was DJ Research's beer, an amber ale from a local brewery called Mountain State Brewery.  We tried to buy a six-pack from a local wine/beer store, but discovered that the beer is only sold in kegs.  Not that we couldn't drink a whole keg, but the image of driving home with a 1.5-year-old strapped in the backseat and a beer keg strapped to the roof of the car seemed like we were asking for our own reality show.

After lunch we finally made it to Two Rivers Treads. I was hoping to not only find a pair of minimalist shoes, but also learn more about how a shoe should fit.  At my local running store a few weeks ago, I was told that shoes should fit like a glove.  And thats what I've heard all my life.  But at Two Rivers Treads I was told differently.

My shoe size is normally 9.5, so I tried on a pair of the Innov-8 230s in that size.  Too small.  My toes were practically touching the front of the shoe.  So I tried on a size 10.  I thought they fit well; my toes weren't scrunched against the top or sides of the shoe.  But the sales rep said they were still too small--particularly too narrow--and encouraged me to try a 10.5.  He said that when you walk/run, your foot expands as you make contact with the ground, so you want a shoe that will give your foot this freedom.  Also, as I run in minimalist shoes, my foot will flatten, causing my toes to splay out naturally, AND my foot will thicken because my muscles will be getting stronger.  I want a running shoe that will accommodate these changes.  

Thickened feet. (via NRC)
 Here's a great article on proper shoe fit.

So I tried the Innov-8 230s in a 10.5.  The felt wide in the toe-box, but not uncomfortably so.  I ran a bit on the store's treadmill and my feet felt great.  The added width did not effect my gait at all.  I also tried on a Merrell shoe (can't remember which, but it didn't fit and they didn't have the next size up) and the Saucony Kinvara 2 & 3.  I love the look of the Sauconys, but the sales rep admitted that they are only minimalist shoes in the sense that they have a 4mm drop (the differential between the heel and the toe is only 4 mm).  Otherwise they have a lot of cushioning, so you can't really feel the ground.  They are a good transition shoe, and I might purchase them for long runs and use my Innov-8s for short runs as I get stronger as a runner (the Innov-8 230s have a 6mm drop, but very little cushioning, so you can really feel the ground.  In fact, I find heel striking in them while walking gets uncomfortable after a while).

Saucony Kinvaras (source)
You need shades to wear these!

I bought the Innov-8s as my Mother's Day gift for myself. I haven't run in them yet, though, so I'll let you know how that goes.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Harper's Ferry. It's a cute town. I look forward to returning.

All in all a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half Marathon Race Recap: A Spectator's Perspective

Day one of our weekend can be found here.

When Nugget and I joined DJ Research at the start area, the first thing I noticed were the other runners.  "Wow, these people are fit!" I told the DJ.  He admitted he has been checking out their legs to see who might be strong on the hills (it was a very hilly course) and noticed that just about everyone had nice legs.  What a weird thing to be scouting.  He's so weird. :)

As we were having this conversation, guess who pulled into the parking lot?  Dr. Mark Cucuzella!  Dr. Mark is a guru on barefoot/minimalist running, and the guru behind the super informative website Natural Running Center.  Check out his video on barefoot running and running form:

We've listened to Dr. Mark on Trail Runner Nation podcast, and the guy is just a wealth of knowledge.  He also owns a running shoe store called Two River Treads that is an exclusively minimalist running store (we stopped by later that day, but more on that later).  So this was a total celebrity sighting for us!

Dr. Mark was not only the race director for this race (Two River Treads was a sponsor), he was also running the race.  Er...correction...he was also leading the runners during the race.  He was at the front of the pack with two other runners the whole race.  And when I say front of the pack, I mean waaaaaaaay ahead of everybody else.  I got a pic of him heading out to the start line:

I only follow celebrities with good running form.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, this race was very low key.  There was a little confusion as to when the race was starting and where the start line was, but soon a guy with a fog horn led everyone down the street to a long piece of duct tape across the road--aka the start line--and it was all sorted out.  The fog horn blew and they were off!

Not a very good pic, but there they go!
DJ Research started at the back of the pack (BOP).

This race was pretty awesome for spectators.  The first three miles are an out and back through what we later discovered were Civil War battlefields.  Then the runners head into the town of Harperʻs Ferry before turning around in the middle of town and heading back to the finish line (also at River Riders).  So there were more opportunities to see your favorite runner than most races, a perk I definitely appreciated.

Nugget and I hung out at the start line waiting for the runners to pass through on their way into town.  There was a lot of rock throwing (which is not really throwing but more rock-leaving-hand-falling-straight-down-to-ground.  He is not yet two, after all).  And lots of banging on stone walls.  And some running down short hills (future mountain runner maybe?  Oh wait, that would be running uphill).  And then the runners came back through.  Nugget enjoyed clapping for the runners, mostly because he really loves to clap.

Cheering the runners! Clapping is fun!

When DJ Research came through he was now in the middle of the pack (MOP) and would stay towards the front of MOP for the rest of the race.  He was smiling and looking great!  We cheered him on as he tackled his first big hill of the race.

First of many crazy hills.

We then headed into town to catch the DJ at the turnaround.  At the suggestion of one of the volunteers (everyone was so nice!), we parked at the 7-11 in front of which the turnaround was positioned.  The leaders arrived just as I was getting Nugget into his stroller.  We made ourselves comfortable and cheered for the runners as they made their way to the midpoint. 

Cheering and catching up on some reading.

One of the things that I loved about this race was that the roads were not closed.  About 3 miles of the race was in town, so runners were racing alongside--or more usually in front of--vehicles for a little less than a quarter of the race.  Volunteers were positioned around the course to direct traffic and ensure no one--runners or drivers--got injured.  There were also a lot of turn-offs were drivers could take another route.  Really gave the race a small town feel: it was just another day in Harper's Ferry.  I thought that was really awesome.

Cars and runners co-existing in
 harmony on the road.

Nugget's energy was beginning to wane, so we headed back to River Riders and hung out in the car for a while, listening to music and enjoying some snacks.  After about 20 minutes, Nugget was ready to romp around again, so we walked to the finish area, thinking that we had about 10-15 more minutes before DJ Research came running in.  As we're walking up the hill, I notice someone who looks and runs almost exactly like my husband.  Wait, a minute!  IT IS MY HUSBAND!  DJ Research came blazing into the finish line, finishing 15th in his age group and 33rd overall.  Holy smokes!  When did he get so fast?!

I've asked the DJ to write a guest post about his race, so that race recap will be right around the corner.  Right, Hun?

We enjoyed the post-race festivities, including pizza, oranges and live music.  And unlimited rock throwing (that might not have been an official post-race activity, but Nugget was sure into it).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon Weekend, Day One

Our little family unit spent this past weekend in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia where DJ Research ran the Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon.  So much to cover that I'm going to make this a three-post series.  Yup, this is a fancy-schmancy blog!

Even though I didn't run this weekend, I thought the race was awesome, awesome, awesome.  In fact, the whole weekend was awesome, awesome, awesome.  DJ Research and I both agreed that the weekend felt like a much-needed vacation.

We departed for Harper's Ferry right after work on Friday, and got caught in the usual Friday rush-hour traffic.  It wasn't too bad--we've definitely been stuck in worse--but it did add about 45 minutes to our drive.  I thought Nugget was just a little whiny; DJ Research thought Nugget was VERY whiny, probably because the DJ is not versed in toddler car-ride etiquette due to the fact that his commute is toddler-free.  Regardless, we arrived in Harper's Ferry in just under two hours, and made our way to River Riders for packet pick-up.

As we would discover, the race was really low key (frankly, this is one of the reasons why I loved the race).  The packet consisted of race bib and a white technical Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon shirt.  We've run races before where we've received a bag full of goodies and even a race hoodie, so by comparison the HFHM packet is a little lite.  But this race isn't about the swag, its about the race.  And I thought it was pretty awesome that the race shirt was a tech shirt.

At this point it was pushing 7:00pm, and we were all pretty hungry.  Nugget was sick of his car seat.  So we opted to have dinner at a nearby mexican restaurant.  Turns out Nugget isn't a big fan of mexican food (I hope he changes his mind because its one of my favorite cuisines!).  He is, however, a huge fan of sugar packets, dumping salt on the table, and dunking his hand in tall cups of ice water.  Luckily, I had packed pasta his lunchbox, so he ate that for dinner while DJ Research had a fajita and I had my chicken chimichanga.  Heaven.

One of the perks of not racing:
you can eat whatever you want!

We then checked in to our swanky motel.  I thought I was smart in booking a room with two double beds so that we could use one bed to stage our stuff/DJ Research's race gear and one bed to sleep in (obviously).  Nugget would be in his pack'n'play right alongside our bed.  At least that was the plan.  DJ Research and I unpacked and started getting ready for bed while Nugget did laps around the room, pushing the luggage rack and wearing my visor.  It was pushing 9:30 at this point, waaaaay past his bedtime.  You would think the kid would be tired.  Nope.

Nugget on lap 5(?) around the motel room.

Finally, lights out and Nugget is asleep by 10:30pm.

At 1:30am, he woke up screaming.

Although we were able to calm him down enough to stop screaming, he was very nervous and uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment of the motel room.  He kept pointing at the door and saying, "I'm done! I'm done!" indicating that he wanted to go home.  I tried to console him myself so that DJ Research could get some sleep for his race, but it became clear that Nugget wanted the both of us, thrusting himself into the arms of the other at his whim.  Eventually the offer of cuddling on our bed with some of his favorite books enticed him to relax and allowed us to finally sit down (Nugget insisted that we pace the room while holding him).  Around 3:30 Nugget finally drifted off to sleep...smack in the middle of our double bed.  For the next two-and-a-half hours, DJ Research and I teetered on the edge of our respective sides of the bed...and on the brink of dreamland.  

Despite the rough night, the DJ said he felt surprisingly energetic the next morning.  I felt pretty good myself.  Nugget awoke just as I was about to pick him up, so we whisked him into the car and headed back to River Riders, where the race would start and finish.  Once there, Nugget and I enjoyed breakfast in the car, and I performed the first of many backseat diaper changes.  We then joined DJ Research near the starting line, where he was warming up for his race.

Next post: Race Recap, a Spectator's Perspective

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Good Mother's Day

[Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon recap coming soon.  Quick summary: It was bleeping awesome.]

Mother's Day is quickly turning out to be my favorite holiday of the year (thanks Hallmark!)  This is only my second Mother's Day as a mom, but both years have rocked hard, and I'm liking the way this holiday is trending.

The day started with an early morning run in the historic town of Harper's Ferry.

Goooooood Morning, Harper's Ferry!

I ran on some trail for the first time in about a month, and it felt oh so good.  Loved the sound of gravel under my feet, and brief chats with local wildlife

Gooooood Morning, Ms. Deer!

And the scenery around Harper's Ferry is just so beautiful, especially early in the morning.

Gooooooood Morning, Morning!

Don't worry, I am not usually this chipper in the morning.  In fact, I'm not usually chipper at all.  But today I just felt like being EXTRA cheesy.

When I returned from my run, DJ Research and Nugget were already up and ready for breakfast, so we headed down to partake in the complimentary continental breakfast at our hotel.  I thought it was awesome, but I admit that I do have a weakness for free food.  DJ Research was not impressed.  Apparently breakfast gave Nugget a kanak-attack (food coma) because he passed out almost immediately on the car ride home.

Eating breakfast is exhausting.

My in-laws had been in town for a few days, so they stopped by before heading home this evening.  We had a nice picnic at the nearby park and then went for a walk around the lake.  Nugget surprisingly walked almost the entire way, frequently stopping to pick up rocks and sticks and throw them into the nearby brush, which is seriously the most exciting thing in the world to do.

Starting our hike

Thanks to our very active day, Nugget passed out in his crib (he was very happy to be sleeping in his own bed again) by 6:30, and I am now chillin' with the DJ and enjoying some brewskis.

I'm enjoying the Avalanche Amber.
Hoppy beers are not for me.

But before he fell asleep, I asked Nugget for a good night kiss.  He looked at me, then wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me the biggest hug I have ever received from him.  I could feel the strength of his entire little body in that hug.  BEST MOTHER'S DAY GIFT EVER.

Oh, and this gift was also pretty awesome.  Introducing my new running shoes, the Innov-8 F-Lite 230s:

I think they're rather ugly, but they fit well and will be a great to run in as I transition to natural running.  It will be back to basics after my half-marathon this Sunday.  Yup, this summer is all about form.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommas out there.  I hope you had a fantastic day!  You deserve it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Busy Weekend

I really should be in bed now, or at the very least packing, because tomorrow we leave for Harper's Ferry West Virginia, where DJ Research will be running a half-marathon.  He is super excited, and I'm super excited for him; this will be his first "trail" race.  Granted, I'm sure the trail-purists out there will scoff at this route, but considering all of our races up to this point have been purely road, and the Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon incorporates some trail, I'm going to consider this a trail run for him (although I think he would disagree.  Too bad.  This is my blog. :)

Nugget is super excited too, although he doesn't know it yet.

I've never been to Harper's Ferry, but I have been to West Virginia.  The drive was beautiful but very hilly.  I hope our little putt-putt can make it again.

Running to Recovery 2

DJ Research is pacing behind me, reminding me that I need to go to sleep because we have a big weekend ahead, so I'm going to make this post short and sweet.

I ran 10 miles tonight to assess how my foot would perform on the run, and how it would recover.  I am happy to report that I felt GREAT.  My pace was slower than I had hoped, but baby steps.  I'm just happy that I didn't keel over at mile 5.  Upon returning home, I immediately had my chocolate milk, stretched (I know there are opposing views on this issue, but I gotta say, post-run stretching works for me), jumped on the foam roller (ok, not literally), and then iced and elevated.  Right now my foot feels great.  We'll see what happens in the morning.

I will be doing short runs for the next week--nothing over 5 miles--and also some spinning, in preparation for my half marathon on the 20th.  YES!  I'm so happy I will be able to run this race!! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Running to Recovery 1

My foot felt great on Friday, so I decided to go for a little run on Saturday.  The goal was 3 miles, even if my foot hurt (due to tendonitis) because I wanted to see how I recovered after that distance.

I started slow.  And I mean S-L-O-W.  It had been so long since I last run, I actually couldn't remember how to run.  My footstrike was sloppy, and I found myself limping although my foot didn't hurt that much.  But I kept at it, and ran 3.3 miles.  I don't think I ever found my stride during this run.

As soon as I got home, I threw back a glass of chocolate milk, and started stretching.  It was evident from the very beginning that my right leg, particularly my right calf, was super-duper tight.  As was my right hamstring.  Well, whaddya know?  Its my right foot that giving me problems!  Perhaps my injury and tension are related?  Hmm....

After stretching, I spent some time with the foam roller, rolling out those terrible knots in my right calf.  Oh my gosh, SO PAINFUL.  I am whimpering like a little kid the whole time (surprisingly, Nugget did not notice the pain I was in and proceeded to sit on my lap while I was on the foam roller.  His extra weight actually helped, I think).  Once I located the knots, I switched to a tennis ball to really target those areas.  At this point, there were literally tears in my eyes.

I then iced and elevated my ankle, and then put on my compression socks.  Result? No pain AND no tightness.  My foot felt great!

So today I decided to go for a slightly longer run.  The goal was 5 miles.  I once again started slow and was happy to discover that my first few steps were pain free!  I still couldn't remember how to run, so it took a while to find my stride, and at that point I could feel my ankle again.  I was feeling really good (though still running really slow), and pushed to three miles before turning around.  My total mileage for this run was 6.68.  By the end, I felt my gait was back to normal, though I could still feel a little tug in my ankle.

Once home, I followed the same routine: chocolate milk, stretching, foam roller/massage, ice and elevate, though the last two steps were rushed since we were headed out the door for last minute errands.  To compensate, I took two Motrin.  My foot feels great, though it does seem like it wants to tighten up.  I'm going to try another massage session before bed tonight and see how it feels in the morning.

These runs were very encouraging.  I'm going to do one more long run of 8-10 miles this week, and see how my foot feels and recovers.  If all goes well, I will definitely run the Marine Corps Half-Marathon on the 20th.  Fingers crossed!

And because I realize all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl, I leave you with a video of a trend I'm pretty sure I started years ago.  I'm so glad its finally catching on.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Embrace the Spin

While I'm in recovery, I'm spinning until I feel confident enough to run again (which hopefully will be soon).  I'm not a fan of the bike, but like I've said, its such a great workout, I have to keep at it.

The persistence is paying off.  I am actually starting to like spinning.  And I think that its only going to get better now that I have my...dun-dun-dun...Special Spinning Playlist!

I used to run with music, but have since stopped due to safety concerns.  Sometimes I miss my music.  I think thats one reason I'm appreciating my spin sessions more; I can workout with music again.  To those runners who listen to music responsibly while running, more power to you.  To those runners who blast your music while running in the middle of the road, get out of the road or I'm going to run you over.  With my car.

Here's my Special Spinning Playlist:

I like this musical progression because it inspires a gradual physical progression of riding up steeper and steeper hills. Or at least thats how I ride to it.  By the time I get to We Are Young, I am riding at the most difficult resistance at a very slow pace.  For some reason I have yet to understand, I LOVE that feeling.  I feel like I am pouring heart, soul and guts into the ride at that point.  It takes all my self-control not to roar like a wild animal.  I feel so raw.  And so amazing.

At what point in your workout do you feel the most amazing?  Does music help get you there?

New Breakfast Fave

Eating healthy is an important part of running.  Ok, its an important part of being alive.  Yet I find it so difficult to do.  I'm not a big junk food addict, nor am I big snacker, but I am a total carb glutton.  And I don't really eat my veggies.  Plus in a pinch, I would probably opt for a snickers bar over a handful of almonds.

Baby steps.  I'm changing things where I can, when I can.  I find a new healthy food I  like and I try to incorporate it into my diet consistently before looking for the next healthy snack.  If I try to change too much too quickly, I get frustrated and eat a whole bag of chocolate.

For the past week I've been trying a new yogurt, one that I made up and mix up myself.  Its not difficult nor is it particularly inventive, just something that my body was craving.  So far, I like it.

The recipe is this:
  • a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt (I like Chobani)
  • a handful of frozen blueberries (also make an awesome snack by themselves)
  • a couple squirts of honey
  • a pinch of ground flaxseed
  • an itty-bitty drop of minced ginger
My measurements are scientific, I know.

Heat the frozen blueberries in the microwave for about two minutes (you want them kinda mushy, or at least I do).  Add honey to taste, and the tiniest little bit of ginger (seriously.  A little bit is too much.  You just want a tiny bit, unless you are a ginger junkie).  Combine the flaxseed and the yogurt.  Add the blueberry-honey-ginger mix.  Enjoy!

For us this is cheaper than buying blueberry yogurt because we use almost all these ingredients for other dishes as well (flaxseed pancakes, yum!).  

What homemade snacks do you enjoy?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Podiatrist vs. Podiatrist

Two weeks ago I promised you a podiatrist story, and I know you have been holding your breath, waiting for it.  Well, wait no more, because not only am I about to deliver my long-promised podiatrist story, but I am also going to tell you a second story about my recent appointment with a new podiatrist!  (I bet you feel like youʻve won the lottery!)

To recap: I hurt my foot on my long run a few Sundays ago, and was hobbling around all week before I finally decided to see a podiatrist that Friday.  In the meantime, I had been icing my foot and keeping it elevated.  On the Wednesday of that week I stumbled upon this video that dealt with a different yet similar foot injury.  Feeling sort of desperate for improvement, I tried massaging my calf in the same way, and what do you know?  My foot felt significantly better!  I was still hobbling, but my range of motion improved dramatically.  Off to the podiatrist I went.

The podiatrist did not look like this, though isnʻt he cute?
Netsuke Podiatrist via

First off, I have to say, she was very nice.  She made me feel comfortable and at ease as soon as she walked into the room.  I told her what was wrong, and that my foot felt a bajillion times better because of the massage, though it was still a little tight.  After inspecting my foot, she said she thinks I may have stressed my peroneal tendons, and based on my research, I had to agree (because, obviously, Dr. Google is my PCP).  Her prescription? Orthotics.

I guess I was kind of expecting her to prescribe orthotics, but I was surprised at how quickly she decided that was the solution.  This was my first foot injury in my adult life.  I donʻt have problems walking, and until this point, I havenʻt had problems running.  Why on earth would I need orthotics?  I did tell her about my minimalist shoes (to which she responded, "Why are you running in those? Because of the trend?"), but rather than suggest a more supportive shoe, she suggested orthotics.  Hm.  I guess thats how podiatrists make money.

Peroneal Tendons.  Foot anatomy is fascinating!
Who knew?  via

I politely declined any offer to fit me for custom orthotics, and left the office.  I was feeling good anyway, and needed to focus on my upcoming race, which I ran well for myself.  My foot did well during the race, but not so well after.  It tightened up again almost immediately, and I was hobbling all week.  Icing, elevating and massage only helped so much.  I was hobbling pretty bad.  It didnʻt hurt as much as it was really, really tight.

I decided to see another podiatrist, one who is affiliated with a local running club.  I told him the whole story, and mentioned the orthotic prescription of the other podiatrist, to which he said, "Stand up.  Ok, sit down."  (Apparently he was checking to see if I had a stable stance.  Since I do, he didnʻt recommend orthotics).  When I told him about my minimalist shoes, he asked, "What are they?" and nodded that he knew which ones I was talking about.  His diagnosis? Peroneal tendonitis.  His prescription?  3 options: 1) rest, 2) physical therapy, 3) take it slow.  When I asked if I could still run my half-marathon in three weeks, he said cross-train and listen to my body.  Run if I feel good.  Donʻt over-train.

He recognized that I ran too hard, too soon in my minimalist shoes, and recommended I take more time to ease into them (like 2 years, as opposed to the 2 months I had been running in them).  He himself runs in minimalist shoes, usually for his shorter, easy runs.  He also recommended I not run in minimalist shoes until my injury is completely healed.

Happy Little Piggies! via

Hallelujah!  I am so happy to find a podiatrist I can work with! (though hopefully I never have to visit him again).  

I am opting for Option #3, and taking it slow.  Today was my first day back in the gym, and though the workout was a little boring, it was still great to be exercising again!  

As for my half-marathon, Iʻm going to do easy runs and lots of cycling, and re-assess myself a few days before the race.  If my foot is still acting up, no race for me.  Iʻll be bummed, but thereʻs so much I want to do over the next few months, its not worth jeopardizing my summer just for this race.

Stay tuned!

Whats the longest its taken you to recover from an injury?  How did you stay active while injured?